Although not a concept commonly described in the UK at present ‘nesting’ involves separated spouses living in the former family house in a week in, week out arrangement while the children live there full time.
You can understand why couples who are separated might want do this. Initially finding somewhere else to live – and who will have the children – can be quite complicated. It’s also potentially cheaper, just to keep paying the mortgage and rent as before.
Apart from the inconvenience of finding somewhere new to live ‘nesting’ can avoid the cost of moving out all your personal possessions.
Of course it’s for their children that many parents consider nesting: your marital home is an environment they’re familiar with and they may not be comfortable leaving. Seeing their parents agreeing to separate will already have proved traumatic for them and the whole process can be very unsettling.
If the other parent decides not to let you in however there might also be grounds to for them to get a Protection Order against you, if you enter the house without their consent, as the act of ignoring their wishes could be seen as an act of domestic abuse.
In my opinion I do not think nesting is a good idea.
Invariably the parent living with the children can easily change their mind about allowing access and in these circumstances a Protection Order is a very likely consequence if the police become involved in the dispute.
Whilst you might have your children’s best intentions at heart having a clean break is often the best way of helping them come to terms that their parents are actually separated.
This confusion gets worse if the former spouse staying with the children allows their new partner to stay in the house. You can see how the family’s stability quickly becomes very complicated.
Consider your own situation too for a moment. If you’re going to live in your old house for half the year, can you afford to buy or rent another property that will remain empty whilst you’re nesting with the children. And what if your former partner stops paying their half of the mortgage or rent in the family home? Life becomes very complicated, and possibly expensive.
So what’s to be done?
In my experience couples who work through the problems of who will move out, or who will pay if the family move elsewhere, can very usefully be sorted out by discussing it with a mediator first. Mediation is a quicker and cheaper alternative to court. I completely support the mediation process where there is a sense of goodwill between the parties, but it is certainly not a process suitable for all separating couples.
If one person does not want to take part in mediation they cannot be forced to do so and the case will then proceed to court.
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The above is accurate as at 27 July 2020. The information above may be subject to change during these ever-changing times.
The content of this note should not be considered legal advice and each matter should be considered on a case by case basis.